Recording Vocals

How do you all record quality vocals on the cheap?

I heard Wierd Al Yankovich recorded all his early work in his bathroom. I figured I could bring in my computer, headphones, and mic, and ** BAM ** instant recording studio. Plus, think about the convience!

I know several of you use vocals in your songs, somebody has to be ghetto like me.

mmm i never thought of that, currently i am living in an factory/office that has huge basements and open spaces and stuff. damn thinking about it, i should sample the whole freaking building (specially the old heating system that’s some spoooky sounds) blablabla way OT… i know. sry :D

anyway… only cheap trick i know is to use a panty as pop/ssss ‘stopper’, layering different takes of the same lyrics can workout nice too. transposing bits as backing stuff etc. recording with a cardboard box on your head is fun also. :blink:

I usually put a sock on my microphone. As pilot7 said, this removes the pop/click-sounds pretty well. Besides that I use some of the input I got here

The Sound On Sound guide seems like good advice, gonna read it through later.

They mention using a harware compressor, and I can also recommend this. Last time I tried to record the vocals straight in using plugin compressor, but I couldn’t get it to sound right, connected a real compressor and was instantly pleased :)

A cheap big membrane condenser mic is usually way better for recording vocals than say shure sm58, which is more for live use.

I made a pop filter of some pantyhose, a cd-r spindle and some wire… works great!
Check it out in a pic of my old setup:

I just got myself a Rode K2 and a SPL Goldmike 9844 - nice mic and a very nice preamp. These are not ‘ghetto’ - you simply can’t cheat much when getting decent vocals. You buy cheap stuff you get a cheap sound. You can compensate for this in the mix, but it’s very hard work.

I am sort of walking the line where I want to invest in the music I create, but my budget consists of only three digits (and I need a new computer). It looks like Foo? you spent between $1600 and $2000, probably well worth it, but definitly out of my range.

What’s the point of the preamp? Isn’t the point of all the great software in this world that we don’t any new hardware? Can’t I just put some filters when I record vocals?

My advice for microphones are ADK A-51. It’s quite cheap, atleast in Sweden, but it’s really great for vocals. I would also recommend a pop filter - either buy one or build one yourself. I think “lady stockings” (for the lack of a better word) as material will do. It saves you a lot of preproduction on the vocals. :)

Also you will need a microphone-preamp with 48v phantom power (atleast for the microphone I mentioned) to increase the signal to line-level, and those come in different variations and budgets. If you’re on a tight budget, you could probably do fine with something from Behringer. Some decent soundcards come with microphone preamps with phantom power built-in.

Finally, all I can say from my own experience is that if you buy a decent microphone, a good preamp and a pop-filter, you will save so much time in terms of getting the vocals the way you wanted. I’ve always had trouble with getting the vocals to fit into my mixes and part of that problem was that the animated/living eq of the vocals just didn’t work. Using a good microphone eliminates that problem.

My 5 cents.

I’ve been checking online and every piece of advice says you need a preamp. I’ve been looking at prices and they are between $50 - $2000!

Here’s the interesting part. Some say they are specifically for microphones, others say that they are instrument preamps that you can use for microphones. Can somebody elaborate on the difference? I even saw a flute preamp!?!

Also junior, you talking about the ADK A-51 TL, or DLX. One you can get for $100+, the other for a ton more? I am hoping you’re using the DLX.

Microphone = 50% of the possible goodness of the sound.
Preamp = 50% of the possible goodness of the sound.
(Assuming you’ve got a good soundcard too)

Do some reading on amp colouration, saturation and tube versus s/state amps. M-Audio and Behringer’s newer stuff qualify for decent cheap s/state preamps.

It depends what ‘sort’ of vocals you’re doing and how ‘serious’ you are about those vocals? If you’re laying down some MCing or little melodies just for fun then by all means spend under $300 and get a bright dynamic mic with a cheap s/state pre (the AKG D330 is my fav live mic). Knock a heap of bass out using filters and you’ll probably get close enough to what you want. But if you drive that mic hard in REAL performance mode then you’ll hear the limitations of your gear. Not many people get to this stage when ‘they’re just having fun’.

If you’re serious you’ve probably, like me, got a real need to lay down some best-quality recordings of your singing or MCing that you know if done right could possibly make you money. Yeah I’ve spent over $AUD1600, but really that’s not too much in the long run and I shopped around a lot. I decided long ago I really needed this. Now I don’t think I’ll have to buy anything else in terms of mics/pres for the next 10 years, if not longer.

Besides if you’ve got some cheap gear and you use it for a while, you’ll know soon enough whether or not your vocals are worth pursuing the expensive gear. That’s how most of us start out.

Good advice Foo?. I am the type of person who will buy something really cheap at first, and then if I get into, will spend the big money to get the best.

The only problem I have left is trying to wade through all the info on what is good/cheap vs crap/cheap. There are $50 dollar preamps that people swear are great, but somehow I don’t buy it.

It is hard to seperate fact from crap.

I have an ADK A-51S myself (with added highpassfilter, if I’m remembering correctly) but a ADK A-51 (that’s what they’re announced as here anyway) will do just as fine. I know there’s a variation called ADK A-51ST as well, but I haven’t tried any others.

The mic-preamp is used to increase the signal of the microphone. And that’s normally what they are called. You can also buy a channelstrip, which is more or less the same but with added functionality like compressor, eq.

I hope this quick explanation helps. :) I also wouldn’t say that the preamp is 50% of the sound, but I know that other will certaintly differ in opinion. :)

Here’s an image of my microphone too.

not so ghetto ! :D

hella sweet though.

Well, up to that point, I recorded my vocals using a borrowed Shure SM-57 (not really a vocal-mic, it’s aimed at recording instruments) with a sock over for several years. Got to say though that I never really became satisfied with the recordings I did then. I’ve always wanted my voice to be the limited area, not the equipment - now it feels that way. ;)